I listened to a lot of great music in 2018. Here’s my listing and reviews.
2018 Music Listing
Romans (Psallos): I love this album. Psallos is the band I never knew I needed in my life. Romans is a verse-by-verse, passage-by-passage, chapter-by-chapter exposition of Romans set to music. Not only are the lyrics (most of which are just slightly changed verses straight from the epistle) Biblically sound, but the music is gorgeous to listen to and very catchy (which is really helpful to get the ideas the book presents stuck in your head).
Hebrews (Psallos): Another great album from Psallos. Hebrews takes the expert lyricism and music of Romans and cranks it to 11—I just adore it, beginning to end. You can tell just how much time and energy went into making this album as excellent as possible.
RWBY (Jeff Williams): The soundtrack to the web series RWBY is one of the best I've heard in a long, long time. I'm so glad that I've gotten to enjoy this show and it's music. Please do yourself a favor and watch the show, and then bask in the glory that is its soundtrack.
My Hero Academia (Hayashi Yuuki): The soundtrack to this anime is simply top-notch, and might be one of the best scores to anything in a long, long time.
Attack on Titan and Attack on Titan II (Hiroyuki Sawano): A fantastic anime with a fantastic soundtrack, both in lyrical songs and its score. Great, evocative music that has inspired me a lot in thinking of my own stories.
A Quiet Divide (Rhian Sheehan): My favorite New Zealand composer came out with a new album of beautiful orchestral music, and it’s amazing. It also once again proves to me that he has written the soundtrack to To Look Skyward, my novel-in-progress. It fits so well.
Atlas: Enneagram (Sleeping At Last): As Ryan O’Neal finishes up Atlas: Year Two, I think he gets better and better at making music. Such cool and evocative stuff on this album.
Kokoro Connect (Misawa Yasuhiro): Another wonderful anime that has an even more wonderful soundtrack. The score for this show is just gorgeous, and has some of the best string and piano music I've ever heard. Great and memorable themes that are all tied together in a complex weave of good music.
Trigun (Tsuneo Imahori): I finally finished watching this anime after about a year, and it was worth the journey. The music is one of my favorite parts of the show, since it perfectly captures the mood and tone of the show. Lots of western-style guitars and some great soundscapes.
This War of Mine (Piotr Musial): This game has captured my imagination once more with its aesthetic and its themes. And also with its beautiful, beautiful music.
Loving Vincent (Clint Mansell): One of my favorite Clint Mansell works after The Fountain, this album is gorgeous and haunting.
4 (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus): I started listening to this band this year, and I gotta tell you, it’s phenomenal. Great music, great themes, and a rocking beat.
Am I The Enemy? (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus): I started listening to this band this year, and I gotta tell you, it’s phenomenal. Great music, great themes, and a rocking beat.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Cody Mendenhall): Every year I listen to a playlist made up exclusively of different versions of this beautiful Christmas hymn. This year I added a new one to the playlist—this gorgeous orchestral/choir rendition that is right up my alley in terms of style and genre. Highly recommended.
The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1 (Rise Against): A great collection of acoustic and down-scaled versions of classic Rise Against songs. Loved it.
Grace Has Come (Sovereign Grace Music): I adore this album and the heartfelt worship of our Lord and Savior it presents to our current generation. No shallowness here. No poor theology to pander to the lost. No. Deep, meaningful, corporate worship.
Convenience Store Boyfriends (Omama Subaru): Though the anime isn't the best I've encountered, it had its evocative moments, and part of that was the phenomenal music that was composed for the show. Solid all the way through, with haunting strings, emotional piano, and happy guitars.
Parasyte (Ken Arai): Parasyte is a wonderful, deep, hauntingly beautiful anime that has an equally haunting soundtrack. It has a strange but fantastic mix of dubstep, orchestral, and rock music that fits the show so well that it somehow all makes sense.
Noragami (Taku Iwasaki): Noragami is another great anime that I enjoyed last year, but just now got around to getting the soundtrack to. This one has some weird music along the lines of the Parasyte soundtrack, but it is also phenomenal and perfectly fits the themes of the show.
Return to Middle Earth (Johan de Meij): This past fall I went to visit a friend who was playing this symphony, conducted by the composer himself, at her college. A symphony written off of the extraneous works of Tolkien, such as The Silmarillion, it is haunting and beautiful and intense.
Englaborn & Variations (Johann Johannsson): The last album that Johann Johannsson was working on before he passed. It's a remastering of Englaborn and an addition of remixes of each of the songs by Johannsson and others who are honoring his memory. I really needed something to help me to say goodbye to Johann Johannsson, and this album was wonderful for that.
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (Clint Mansell): Always highly enjoy one of my favorite composers’ work, and this is no exception. Folky all the way through, this album encapsulates family, the new year, and the country perfectly, and is a joy to listen to.
Mandy (Johann Johannsson): A haunting apocalyptic soundtrack by my favorite posthumous composer.
Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings (Johan de Meij): This past fall I went to visit a friend who was playing this symphony, conducted by the composer himself, at her college. A symphony written off of the book trilogy The Lord of the Rings, it is a gorgeous and beautiful rendition of an amazing fantasy world.
Kanon (Hiroyuki Kouzo): This cute little anime had a simple but evocative soundtrack, with themes that still make me cry. The instrumentation isn't the most complex and often is just piano and synth, but the notes themselves scream out a story that still resonates in my bones.
Clannad (Magome Togoshi): Another cute anime that has wonderful music, similar to Kanon. Fantastic music on its own, but when tied together with the characters and stories, the music makes me want to cry.
25 Years of Miyazaki Animation (Joe Hisaishi): An awesome live concert album celebrating twenty-five years of Ghibli films and its music.
A Quiet Place (Marco Beltrami): I adored this movie, and the minimalist score is a major part of why it was so good.
F#a#infinity (Godspeed You! Black Emperor): I like weird music. And this is one of the weirder ones. A three-song, hour-long album that starts with beautiful poetry and then evolves into a wonderful ambient soundscape. I've been listening to it and thinking about stories set after the apocalypse.
Come Alive (Rachel Taylor): This album is a great pop album. I usually don't say that, but it's true. It has a lot of cinematic qualities about it, and I truly enjoyed listening to it; it provoked images in my head and emotions in my heart. Rachel Taylor (lead singer of He Is We, a band I've always enjoyed) continues to make good music.
Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer (Erik Lutz and Jared Kraft): A perfect soundtrack for this documentary on Luther, the music perfectly sets the tone for the Reformer’s life.